“Listen to your gut”, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this”
These are everyday sayings which actually refer to the concept "psychosomatic symptoms". So what exactly are they?
The word ‘psychosomatic’ combines two ancient Greek phrases. ‘Psyche’, the Greek for soul, is commonly seen in words like psychologist, psychiatrists, psychedelics, etc., and is a reference to the concept of the mind. ‘Soma’ is the Greek term for our body; that is, our limbs, organs, bones, head, face, genitals, and anything else we consider as part of our physical anatomy.
Psychosomatics, then, is a term describing the influence of mental or emotional states on bodily symptoms and sensations.
What is Self-Compassion?
"Be kind to yourself."
We can hear this quite a lot, but what does it actually mean? Being kind to ourselves relates to the act of self-compassion. Before we think about self-compassion, let’s focus our attention to compassion. Compassion is the process of being aware of suffering in others and the drive to do something about that in order to sooth or prevent it. The word compassion may hold different connotations for us.
What is Empathy?
Empathy is our capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing, that is, the capacity to place oneself in another's position, considering their emotions and experiences.
To get into the other person's shoes, as it is widely known.
Empathy is innate to human beings and it is our neurological response to another person’s emotions. The response to what is felt by another person occurs automatically and often out of our conscious awareness. From an early age we are wired to experience what another person is feeling which provides essential learning cues and marks our successful development.
Plato said “opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance.”
People talk. And we hear. People tend to have opinions about everything and anyone. It doesn’t matter if their opinion is an argument or “just saying”, they will feel entitled to express it and we will fall for it. In other words, many of us tend to see ourselves through other people's eyes. Every day, every moment of it, we feel judged about our looks, how we behave, how smart we are or if we are being good partners or good parents.
This is how I call any challenging situation, any hard time in life, that brings turbulence in my inner -hard-won- balance.
I call it like that not only because it is -objectively- a difficult moment in your life. But mainly because it blows a strong wind inside your mind, it makes you feel you have no shelter to protect yourself, it thunders against all what you have believed and dreamt so far, it pours you into an emotional rollercoaster, and all this you have to fight it by yourself.
Defeating anxiety, stress, negative thoughts, procrastination and fears has never been easy. And it never will be. Not because there is something wrong with us, or because we are doing it the wrong way, but because it is something that indeed requires from us conscious effort, time, practice and a lot of mental energy. We are actually rewiring our brain: changing the neuron paths existing since childhood which take us a certain way, into a different path, where things happen in a different way and are linked to different thoughts.
In order to build that new path, we need to develop some specific skills. Attention: don't go into "all or nothing" thinking, saying to yourself "I don't have that skill, so I will never beat anxiety". It's not "you either have it or you don’t". We all have these skills, each and every one of us, at a different degree. And we can all work on these skills, a little bit every day, some skills more than others. There is no recipe here. No one is master in all of them - we are all trying our best.
Everyone talks about the downside of depression. But is there a good side at all? Anger and stress, for example, can help us adapt to external threat and protect ourselves. But depression? Is there any actual benefit in it?
Depression helps us build stronger relationships.
At some point in our life we experience the pain and grief associated with the loss of a loved one. We feel depressed, our life seems empty, we are stressed, and what seemed interesting in the past, now appears meaningless. This pain makes us understand how close we were to this person and how important they were to our life. it is during this depressive phase that we acknowledge how significant our relationships are to our well-being.
Once upon a time there was a man called Odysseus, the king of Ithaka who fought for a decade at the war of Troy together with his men. After the war, he started his trip back home but unfortunately he and his 12 ships were driven off course by storms. They travelled all around the Mediterranean sea, chased by angry gods, seduced by vindictive women, life-threatened and shipwrecked by humanlike landscapes. During 10 years of struggling, Odysseus lost all his men but eventually escaped and survived from all these tortures and challenges, because he was the only one believing in his return back home. And he reached there alone.
One of the most thrilling moments of my career was when I was working with an autistic child. Actually, not much of a child, Carl(*) was 21 years old. His mental age however was closer to that of a 4-5 year old.
His mother told me that from now on he would be my teacher and would teach me how to behave towards him. The short life we would share inside his room for a few hours a week would be the mirror of the bigger life that I have "out there", Interesting concept I thought, and at least a rather challenging assignment.
To start with, one of my goals was to make eye contact with him. Taken for granted? No.
Easy? Not at all.
TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE.